The Amarillo Symphony recently welcomed its new Music Director and Conductor, George Jackson. The new director will begin his role for Symphony’s 99th season, starting in September. Jackson’s tenure will span three years, including the upcoming Centennial season in 2023.
“I’m very excited. I think as a young conductor, I’ve always been cautious before entering into what is essentially a long-term relationship, and a leadership relationship, with anyone. what an orchestra, because it has to be the right person and I think what I’m looking for matches very strongly with what Amarillo is looking for,” Jackson said. “I think what I would like to bring to Amarillo is more of an international relationship with the international music network and I think the symphony – and the community – is very keen to have that.”
Jackson was determined for the job after becoming one of three finalists chosen by the Music Directors’ Search Committee to conduct two Masterpiece Concerts in 2022. The committee was made up of board members, community representatives and musicians. During the decision-making process, feedback from musicians, patrons and members of the symphony orchestra’s board of directors were also taken into consideration.
Jeff Booth, head of the Music Directors Search Committee, said in a press release, “The Amarillo Symphony Music Directors Search Committee was impressed with our three finalists, but chose unanimously and with excited George Jackson as our next Music Director. We were impressed with how he inspired our musicians and made his concerts a truly special experience. Off the podium, we considered his ideas for the future of our symphony and for collaborating with other arts organizations in our region as innovative and creative. We appreciate his vision of working with our youth and our schools. His enthusiasm for taking on this position is matched by our enthusiasm for the future. of our symphony orchestra with him as the new musical director.
During his tenure as musical director, Jackson said he looked forward to celebrating Amarillo and recognizing the community through upcoming performances of the symphony. He talked about showcasing these unique qualities by engaging in community outreach, especially with students and younger generations, as well as hosting several concerts during the 100th season that include original pieces by the Amarillo Symphony that haven’t been played since their debut, the chance for a “Star Wars” themed concert as well as one that celebrated the Hispanic community with a concert featuring a Mariachi band.
“What’s exciting is that no one in the audience, I think, is older than the symphony. It’s exciting because it means there shouldn’t be any sense of ego to be around the orchestra because this institution is older than everyone else and will be older as the viewers go forward…in that sense, what I want to do in centennial season is celebrate the orchestra and, through that, celebrate Amarillo,” Jackson said.
Jackson moved to Amarillo from his home in London, England to fulfill his new role. According to the new director, he was raised in London by his actor parents, but grew increasingly interested in music. At an early age, Jackson learned to play the violin and later joined a few bands as a guitarist and drummer.
“I started playing the violin around the age of 11 or 12 and didn’t really take it seriously, but later I got into it and joined a youth orchestra where I was introduced to a whole universe of symphonic music… I then lived for a while in Dublin, Ireland, then I moved to Vienna, Austria, where I studied conducting. orchestra and from there I started my career where I worked a lot in France, Germany, Austria and the United States as well,” he said.
Jackson has an ongoing relationship with Ensemble Intercontemporain and released the world premiere recording of Reich/Richter by Steve Reich on Nonesuch Records, having performed in Rome, Paris and Luxembourg.
Jackson also led the group for the French premieres of works by Rebecca Saunders and James Dillon at the 2019 Festival d’Automne à Paris. With the Collegium Novum Zürich, Jackson conducted “Noli me tangere”, a new work by Isabel Mundry . With the Brussels Philharmonic, Jackson conducted the world premiere of Claire-Mélanie Sinnhuber’s new work, “Chahut”.
Jackson’s formative experiences include his attendance at the Lucerne Festival Academy and the AspenMusic Festival, where he received the Aspen Conducting Prize in 2015.
Jackson’s recent engagements include the Orchester de Paris, the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, the Opéra Orchester national Montpellier Occitanie and the Rouen Opera Orchestra.
He has also been acclaimed for his work in opera, including his participation in productions of “Hänsel und Gretel” and “The Excursions of Mr. Brouček” (Grange Park Opera), “Le nozze di Figaro” (Opera Holland Park) and “Il barbiere di Siviglia” (Theatre an der Wien).
Future plans include her Wrocław Opera debut with “Rigoletto” and the world premiere of “Gods of the Game”, a collaborative opera commissioned by Sky Arts for Grange Park Opera.
“I think what excites me the most is just being here and even on the days that I’m not working with the orchestra, just meeting people and just listening to the community,” Jackson said. “I want to know what people want from the orchestra and I think there are ways to better serve the community.”